- My pick at Churchill on Friday, Link to My Heart, got bet down late to 3-1, but finished 8th. I think that, for the duration of my present troubles, I'm going to avoid horses stepping up to allowance company after graduating from the maiden ranks. However, I did mention both the first and second place finishers, Creative Design and Seemingly, who combined for an exacta payoff of $318.80. So I'll take that as some progress.
The feature at the Big A today is the G3 Stuyvesant Handicap. Naughty New Yorker (6-1) was pinched back at the start of the Empire Classic, for which he was the 6-5 favorite after two easy wins. He seemed to be in a real groove, but was left with far too much to do on that day, especially when he encountered an impossible wall of horses rounding the turn. Still, he showed some class rallying for 4th, and has since trained very well for this encounter. His last two efforts on the Aqueduct main track were his second to Magna Graduate in the G3 Excelsior, and his win in the off-the-turf Red Smith. So I'll tab him for the mild upset. Awfully Smart has been awfully sharp in winning five of his last seven starts, recording triple digit Beyers in his last four. He does prefer the lead though, and didn't have it the last time he faced Barcola. The latter breaks from the outside post, and may also have to deal with Utopia, who broke poorly in the Meadowlands Cup. It also seems as if both he and Awfully Smart have done their best running at Delaware.
- The bill to put slots on the ballot in Maryland next November just barely survived the vote in the House of Delegates; the 86 to 52 vote was one more than was needed to pass by the required 3/5ths super-majority. House Speaker Michael Busch, who was credited with killing bills that would have authorized the machines without a referendum in past years, apparently worked hard to get this one over the hump.
Del. Roger Manno, a freshman Democrat from Montgomery County, said he agreed to vote for the bill at the behest of Busch aides who fanned out through the chamber when the vote count came up short and Busch held up the final tally....But before the House and Senate negotiate their differences on the bill, the House needs to pass a companion bill that would set the rules for slots, and that is not a sure bet.
"My heart was heavy from beginning to end," said Manno, who is "philosophically opposed" to slots but agreed to let voters decide. "I do think that democratically this is the way to go." [Baltimore Sun]
House Speaker Michael E. Busch has said he does not know whether he has the simple majority of 71 votes to pass the companion bill, and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller has said passing one bill without the other would amount to "fraud."....
The companion bill is controversial because it sets aside up to $100 million for the struggling horse racing industry, and several legislators contend that the locations are defined so that only a select group of gambling interests are expected to benefit.